Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

THE MIRACLE THAT IS COCONUT OIL






Just before my recent vacation in the Dominican Republic (which hopefully I can get that report done soon!), I started reading, again quite by accident, about the "healing" powers of coconut oil. Then, during my vacation, I find myself surrounded by coconuts everywhere. A mere coincidence?? Coconut trees and groves everywhere. Not palm trees, coconut trees. I could only envision the coconut trees dominating the area where my resort is now located when explorers first landed on that island. There was a coconut tree grove outside my section of the hotel, and a tree loaded with coconuts within reach of my balcony. A massage by a local woman (on the beach no less) using coconut oil and the way it made my hair and skin feel afterward furthered my curiosity.


So I have been reading about all the misconceptions about coconut oil: how bad it is for you; how it is high in saturated fat so therefore even worse for you; etc. But in-depth reading has led me to believe otherwise, that coconut oil--a tropical oil, used for centuries until recently, has gotten a bad rep. Here is just one website I referred to if you want to read more yourself: http://www.coconut-connections.com/healthiest_oil.htm. Here are just a few facts about coconut oil:

What Coconut Oil DOES Do:
Reduces risk of atherosclerosis and related illnesses.
Reduces risk of cancer and other degenerative conditions.
Helps prevent bacterial, viral, and fungal (including yeast) infections.
Supports immune system function.
Helps control diabetes.
Provides an immediate source of energy.
Supports healthy metabolic function.
Improves digestion and nutrient absorption.
Supplies important nutrients necessary for good health.
Supplies fewer calories than other fats.
Promotes weight loss.
Helps prevent osteoporosis.
Has a mild delicate flavor.
Is highly resistant to spoilage (long shelf life).
Is heat resistant (the healthiest oil for cooking).
Helps keep skin soft and smooth.
Helps prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.
Helps protect against skin cancer and other blemishes.
Functions as a protective antioxidant."

What Coconut Oil DOES NOT Do:
Does not increase blood cholesterol level.
Does not promote platelet stickiness or blood clot formation.
Does not contribute to atherosclerosis or heart disease.
Does not contribute to weight problems.

I know, I know, we've heard this same thing many times over about other "miracle" products. But if you can take just one thing and see the logic, I would say, after spending time in other tropical countries, that coconut oil certainly DOES make the hair shiny and helps keep the skin smooth and wrinkle free, especially considering the amount of sunlight these people are exposed to. (And using that as another topic, why do these people who spend 365 days a year, 24/7 in the sun not have skin cancer? Could it be the sun isn't the culprit here??) Without stirring up any controversy here, I'm just saying.

I've also been using some of the oil since the vacation, and have to say my skin has never felt better! Even after a week in the sun and a couple of weeks tanning before, AND our miserably cold, dry weather here. (It only took one day for my hands to crack and bleed after being back.) Using the oil, sparingly, I am seeing some dramatic results in keeping the skin supple.

The amazing thing about coconut oil is that you not only can use it for your skin, but you can cook with it and eat it too. Haven't gotten that far yet, because it does take the cold pressed virgin coconut oil type to cook with, and according to all info, you can take it internally in small doses initially, and that in and of itself will help with hair and skin issues, without resorting to applying it topically. What I have is expressly for the topical use. I am planning on getting the type you can use for cooking and see what happens.

Now if using this could just make me feel like I was still in the tropics, it would be well worth it!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ANOTHER PIECE TO THE PUZZLE
I know I hinted at more to come on some of my discoveries on my road to better fitness. I want to be sure what I am saying (and doing) is correct and works before I endorse it. What I will say right now is so far so good.
Here's another piece to the puzzle: short interval periods of high intensity followed by equal or longer periods of rest = more fat burning and better fitness.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS


After all these years, is it possible I (and others) have this all wrong? In my annual quest for self improvement, I started seeking a new way to do what is familiar, which has led me on an enlightening journey, filled with frustration, disbelief, awareness, and finally acknowledgement that maybe what I’ve been doing for so many years just isn’t working.

Remember when I posted back in January about reading a book by a woman who had done an Ironman who also had her own fitness club, wrote books, was a female body builder, etc.? Her belief was that maybe all that steady state cardio really won’t help you keep that lean physique everyone seems to want but which is elusive to many of us. Because I found I fit that category, it got me, and kept me, wondering and seeking more information. I will add that while her articles got me thinking, I found after the fact that her program was not what I needed. Still, she did earn good marks for sending me down this road of self-enlightenment.

During training and after doing the IM, I pretty much expected that I would have no lingering weight problem, my body fat percentage would drop dramatically, I would be stronger, leaner, faster, healthier. Imagine my complete surprise and disappointment when I realized this had not happened. Yes, I had completed one of the premier endurance events around, and yes, that alone gave me a huge amount of self-satisfaction, also fulfilling a goal I had carried around with me for many years.

But still, something nagged at me. Something made me question whether I had accomplished the one goal I sought after more than anything: reaching the ultimate in good health and fitness.

To be honest, I was concerned that I did not have that many years left to achieve these things, and was even more concerned to find I was not in the best physical condition that I could be, or thought I would be, after that event. Without going into a lot of mundane details, being the person I am, I set out to make a better me.

I researched dozens of fitness articles, as well as the authors for credibility. I examined dozens of workout programs, and again their authors for credibility. I studied many philosophies about fitness and what makes a person fit, but what I mainly found was once you got in depth into a website, often the bottom line was someone wanted to sell you something—and not necessarily anything you needed, but made you think you might. First there was the buildup, then the enticements, and finally the closing of the sale. I do not usually part with my money readily without being absolutely sure I believe in what I’m buying or need it more than another similar product. Basically, most of these programs I decided I wasn’t buying. There were a lot of good parts here and there, that combined might have been an ideal product or program, but nothing in its whole could convince me it was worth my time long term. And I know from experience that if I am not going to stick with something long term, there is no sense in starting it--like yoga, for instance. I do not want to spend the time to get good at it, so it is more of a nuisance to me and my time if I do it.

Then, quite by accident—and usually, don’t revelations happen this way?—I came across a link that totally changed my thinking of everything fitness related I have been doing for over 20 years. In the process, it blew apart for me the whole cardio thing.

And now, I will entice you, to come back soon and check for details. I am still in the process of trying out and further researching a program, but unfortunately with work and other commitments, I am unable to go in depth right now. That and I'm getting ready for my yearly tropical vacation and have yet begun to pack or plan for that! I promise, however, if I do have internet service while away, I will post not only my vacation details but try to get a continuation of this report posted so as not to leave you hanging. The one good thing for me about being gone is I can put this experiment to more of a test.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE LIGHT




That's how my run went this morning: started out with the full moon, ended with the sunrise. It was so uplifting for many reasons.

First, it is the sure sign that winter is waning and spring is truly just around the corner. When I can go out for a weekday run before work and have it daylight when I return is a turning point. That and most of the streets and sidewalks are now clear of snow buildup and most of the ice.

Next, it has been weeks, no months, since I have had a good run, probably since B2B, if you could call that a good run. Taking some mandatory time off from running after the IM, then having winter set in, a bad December virus that took weeks to clear up, holiday shopping, the holidays themselves, more winter setting in, then the headaches, it seems like while I have been working out steadily, no measurable progress was being made. I was just going through the motions that are a part of my everyday life. I couldn't even begin to plan a race season with the almost daily headaches. Update on that seems to be--at this point anyway--an allergic reaction to something environmental, based on the other symptoms. Those too seem to be clearing up, although not totally gone.

Third, Masters swim is no longer kicking my butt, at least to the point where I feel drugged and unable to function the next morning. Part of that was pushing myself through hard workouts with the headaches, which themselves left me exhausted. To be able to get up and run in the morning is a sure sign of overcoming that hurdle.

So when I get a day or two (its been 3 days in a row now for the first time since mid January) without a headache, I feel like I have all this energy built up inside of me that is waiting to let loose. Today was one of those days, and I am so glad I made the effort to get dressed to go out, even though Monday nights are late nights with masters swim and eating late, going to bed late, etc. I rarely get more than 4 or 5 hours sleep Monday nights, but still woke up without an alarm and was ready to head out the door by 6:30.

The full moon was still out. Everyone on Facebook talked about it last night, so I was eager to get out and enjoy it, if only briefly. It was 23 degrees, 10 full degrees colder than yesterday, but with no wind and proper clothing, I still found myself sweating somewhat throughout the whole run. Forty minutes later, the sun was up and the day was upon me.

Let's hope these good feelings last!